|<< James 5
I Peter 1-5 Listen
An introduction to I Peter
The Christians are under great persecution under the Roman emperor Nero. This epistle was written by Peter to the dispersed Christians around 62-64 A.D. to provide them with a doctrinal foundation. The place names provided in verse 1 are located in today's Turkey. Peter's readers to this epistle were predominantly of Gentile rather than Jewish background (1:14; 2:9-10; 4:3-4).
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter uses the word "strangers" to describe the recipients of his letter. The Greek word he uses there (parepidemos) is translated "pilgrims" in 2:11. Peter probably means to use this word to identify their permanent residence as Heavenly rather than earthly. The same Greek word translated "pilgrims" is used in Hebrew 11:13 to identify those people of faith in the context that their permanent home was Heaven when it says, "they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." That idea fits nicely with verses 2-5. Peter clearly establishes Heaven as the end result of our salvation experience in Jesus Christ. Verse 5 is particularly useful reading for those who have trouble accepting the fact that our salvation is eternal, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." The great news here is that I'm not responsible for keeping my own salvation secure; God is...and he's omnipotent! It's a very secure feeling to be "kept by the power of God."
Here we are, 30 years or so after the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (see notes) when the church at Jerusalem was established. You will notice in these verses that Peter states as fact the scriptural principle of the security of the Believer in these verses without going into a detailed explanation; he packs a lot into these verses.
Notice the terms he uses to establish the security of the Believer's salvation:
If those terms in verse 2 ("Elect" and "foreknowledge") are confusing to you, click here to read the notes on Romans 9 regarding the usage of those terms in the New Testament. So, with these terms in mind, let's view verse 2 with a new appreciation of why our salvation is so secure in Jesus Christ. For someone to read verse 2 and still maintain that it is possible to lose one's salvation...well...that's just disregarding the plainly-stated conditions of salvation. The multiplication of grace and peace in verse 2 is a frequent expression in the New Testament as part of their mutual greetings to one another.
In verses 3-4, Peter expresses a thankfulness to God for the living hope that we now have as a result of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because of his resurrection, we can look forward to our own resurrection. Verse 4 clearly describes the conditions of that resurrection as being in heaven where we will be "incorruptible and undefiled." Peter caps off these assurance guarantees in verse 5, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Notice that "God" does the keeping by his own power in that verse, not our own power. Just to be safe, let's plainly state the obvious: Our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
These "manifold temptations" probably refer to the persecution under Nero of Believers. The Greek word used for "temptations" there is "peirasmos." Refer to the article to the right of this screen entitled "Trial, Testing and Temptation" for the precise meaning of that word, or click here to read the article in full screen. Hard times build our faith. In verse 7, Peter uses the Greek verb and noun ("dokimazo" and "dokimion") from the same root word (see box to right for definitions) where he draws a comparison between trial in a Christian's life to the fire that is used to make gold pure. The fire separates the impurities from the gold; that's what trial does for Believers. To put it simply, Peter is normalizing the presence of trial as a process of victorious Christian living. Notice the rejoicing that accompanies this trial (verse 8) as we look forward to the completion of our salvation experience, "the salvation of your souls" (verse 9, i.e. the final redemption to Heaven itself).
Let's recognize those Old Testament prophets (I
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Peter vindicates those Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah who prophesied about the coming Messiah. Of particular note here is Peter's reference to salvation in verses 1-5. This salvation by grace as a condition of the heart is exactly what was prophesied as a component of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, see notes). While all the conditions of the New Covenant had not been realized at the time of the writing of this epistle, salvation by grace had. Click here to read the notes on Hebrews 8 regarding the provisions of the New Covenant. He further mentions in verse 11 that those prophets "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." We see Isaiah's prophecy concerning the suffering of Christ in Isaiah 53 (see notes) and the glory in Isaiah 11 (see notes) and Isaiah 65 (see notes). Verse 12 says that what they previewed, we are realizing.
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
There's a metaphor in verse 13 - "gird up the loins of your mind." Men wore long robes, but when they had a task requiring increased mobility, they tucked their robes in at their belts, an action referred to as "girding up one's loins." While this was done for work, athletics, traveling, warfare, etc., based upon Peter's reference to the passover lamb in verse 19, he may have had in view here Exodus 12:11 (see notes), "And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover." In any case, the message is clear - stay alert in anticipation for "the revelation of Jesus Christ," a reference to the rapture of Believers (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, see notes).
The usage of the word "hope" in verse 13 comes from the Greek word ("elpizo") which literally means "confident expectation." Since you've been saved in Christ, act like it (verse 14). Here's a clear call for Believers to live out their righteousness before the world. I particularly find verses 15-16 meaningful, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [Greek: "anastrophe" means "lifestyle"]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." Peter quotes Leviticus 11:44-45 (see notes) here. These words are found again in Leviticus 19:2 (see notes). These verses are talking about lifestyle after salvation - strengthened by the fact that Leviticus 11 and 19 are also dealing with lifestyle. Let's take a look at three Greek words with he same root. The first is "hagiasmos" - used 10 times in the New Testament and is translated "holiness" or "sanctification." The verb equivalent of this noun is "hagiazo" and means "to set apart or dedicate." The Greek adjective form of that root is "hagios," which is translated "holy" or when used as a noun is often translated "saints." In other words, a Believer is "set apart" for an eternity in Heaven as a "saint" of God, and in that respect, all Christians are "holy."Peter uses the adjective "holy" (Greek: "hagios" means "set apart") four times in two verses to indicate a Believer's responsibility to set a Christ-like example before the world. Since Believers are set apart in Christ, we should act like it under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. Let the world see your life in Christ. Or...perhaps I should say, "Let the world see Christ in your manner of living."
Verse 17 sets up the rest of the chapter, "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." Notice the "if" clause - "if ye call on the Father" followed by the "then" clause - "pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." The usage of the word "paroikia" for "sojourning" here holds the connotation that Believers are strangers in this world - the very same thought conveyed with his usage of "strangers" in verse 1. Believers are just passing through this world. As such, the "fear" of verse 17 (Greek: "phobos") projects that our attitude be mindful of the seriousness of the situation as aliens in a Christ-rejecting world. Now Peter lists the supporting arguments for his exhortation of verse 17 by first of all explaining what's different about us - our spiritual redemption. Notice in verse 18 that our redemption is not earthly in nature, but spiritual as in verse 19, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." It is not clear whether Peter refers to paganism or Judaism in verse 18 when he refers to those traditions as being "vain." Whatever, they don't measure up to Christ's sacrifice of his own blood. Why? Because he was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" to make that sacrifice (verse 20) and because God "raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory" (verse 21). As a result, our faith and hope is in God.
Since our faith and hope is in God (verse 21), the Believer's soul is purified (verse 22). Then comes a command (a Greek imperative verb), "Love one another." Remember that Jesus himself identified this as a vital aspect of being a disciple of Christ in John 13:34-35 (see notes) when he said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Verses 23-25 emphasize the eternal permanence of the Word of God by which we experience regeneration in Christ. Peter makes certain that his readers understand the permanence of the "word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" when he quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8 (see notes) in verse 24, "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:" He follows this quotation with his statement of verse 25, "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." In so doing, he applies the weight of Old Testament prophecy to the contents of his epistle.
When we talk about the mechanics of salvation, I Peter 1:23 is particularly exact, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." Salvation is described as a "born again" experience. Jesus described salvation similarly to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21 (see notes). Here's why that's important. Salvation is not a feeling or just an experience, it's a relationship that involves a transformation. Notice what Paul says about it in I Corinthians 12:13 (see notes), "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." Literally, the "born again" experience involves being "baptized" by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. We sometimes refer to salvation as the "new birth" for that reason. The analogy there is important to note as well. We saw that we are "kept by the power of God" in I Peter 1:5; the reason that's so is because we have been spiritually born into God's family just like physically people are born into their families on earth. You can't undo a physical birth, nor can you undo a spiritual birth. Salvation is not just an experience or a feeling, it's a permanent relationship with God as a result of "being born again" just like both Christ and Peter have indicated.
1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Because of this supernatural relationship described with Christ in the preceding chapter, here are the instructions for conducting one's Christian life. First of all the "love one another" admonition of verse 1:22 is reinforced here with a little mini list in verse 1, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings." You will notice that all of those are relationship issues. Peter uses a couple of metaphors here to illustrate the Believer's allegiance to Christ. The first metaphor for these Believers is to desire the "milk of the word" as "newborn" Believers. Verse 3 is an obvious reference to Psalms 34:8 (see notes), "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." The next is the familiar "stone" metaphor. Peter quotes first from Isaiah 28:16 (see notes) in verse 6, then Psalms 118:22 (see notes) in verse 7, and finally, Isaiah 8:14 (see notes) in verse 8. In other words, Christ is the stone prophesied in the Old Testament, and as Believers, we are the living stones from him. This "cornerstone" teaching from the Old Testament was actually used by Jesus himself in a parable to the Jewish leaders regarding his imminent crucifixion in Matthew 21:42/Mark 12:10/Luke 20:17 (see notes). Later in the New Testament we then see Jesus as the "cornerstone" in Acts 4:11 (see notes) and Romans 9:33 (see notes) as well as here. All of the New Testament usages are based upon these Old Testament scriptures. So, to summarize, Jesus is the living stone (verse 4), the corner stone (verse 6), the rejected stone (verse 7), and the stumbling stone (verse 8). And...Believers are the "lively stones" (verse 5), a chip off the old block...you might say. That being the case, verse 5 says exactly that. But wait! There's more! we are also our own priests. We don't need to run to a priest for intercession. Look at verses 9-10.
Here's the New Testament hierarchy for Believers:
I Timothy 2:5 (see notes) says, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" In other words, Jesus eliminated the middle man with his sacrificial death on the cross. It is inappropriate for a Believer to depend on another man to absolve sin or mediate; Jesus and Jesus alone does this for all Believers. So...there it is: Believers are priests of God.
As a matter of fact, Believers are much more than priests, according to verse 9:
Then comes the responsibility. We saw those relational attitudes to be avoided in verse 1; here are the attitudes to be pursued by Believers in verse 9-12:
A couple of points should be noted here. First of all, Peter is encouraging Gentile Believers to live a positive testimony. The readers are identified as Gentiles in verse 10, "Which in time past were not a people..." An elaboration of verse 12 on having "conversation honest among the Gentiles" is seen in the following verses regarding submission to authority.
Incidentally, Peter obviously borrowed some of this terminology to describe the New Testament Believers' position before God from a previous description of the Hebrews found in Exodus 19:5-6 (see notes), "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
The tendency would have been to refuse obedience to an oppressive government like the Roman Empire under Nero. The lesson of scripture is, as much as possible, to comply with the laws of our government's leaders. Sometimes there is a clash - like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3 (see notes) or Daniel himself in Daniel 6 (see notes). However, compliance with one's government, short of direct violation of scriptural principle, is a mandate of scripture. Paul dealt with this issue of government authority rather comprehensively in Romans 13:1-7 (see notes).
Peter makes an interesting Daniel-type distinction in verse 16, "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." That term "cloke of maliciousness" literally means using one's religion in a self-serving, not God-honoring way. In other words, don't resist the government by invoking Christian principle when there is not really any Christian principle involved.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
While the direct application of scripture here is to servants/slaves, the concept reaches beyond them to all of us. (Click here to see the summary on slavery during the first century.) Christ was sinless and yet suffered - suffered without complaint. Suffering is part of Christian living. Suffer graciously; don't jeopardize your testimony in the process. Peter draws heavily from Isaiah 52-53 in this passage, but perhaps the most significant of these quotes is found in verse 24, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." That's taken from Isaiah 53:5 (see notes) where it was prophesied that the Messiah would suffer for our sin burden.
A very significant comparison is seen here. When one does wrongly, he expects to be buffeted for such. However, when one does well and is still buffeted, this is the time when one's Christian character is being tested. The comparison is that Jesus, himself, suffered for wrongdoing, even though he had done no wrong. Jesus is our example.
I hesitate to make an issue of the rendering that many modern translations have given to verse 25, but I guess I will anyway. The Greek verb for "returned" there is "epistrepho" which means to turn or turn back. However, the verb is unquestionably in the passive voice here, making the subject receiving the action rather than implementing the action. So, simply put, those "sheep going astray" received shepherding (Shepherd - Greek: poimen) and oversight (Bishop - Greek: episkopos) which CAUSED them to return. Though slight, there is a difference between turning oneself as opposed to being led by Jesus to turn.
1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Here are some self-explanatory verses on the husband-wife relationship - not very politically correct by today's standards, but scriptural nonetheless. Notice the admonition to the wife of the husband who is not living by scriptural principles in verses 1-2. A Godly Christian example serves to influence him to obedience to God also. A modest appearance is encouraged in verses 3-4 on behalf of women. These two verses are intended to differentiate between the appearance of ungodly women as opposed to Christian women. Peter clearly establishes the marriage chain of command in verses 5-6. He makes reference to Genesis 18:12 (see notes) where Sara called Abraham "lord." The Greek word for "lord" in verse 6 is "kurios," which means "master" as does its Hebrew counterpart "adown" used in Genesis 18:12. There's no question: Peter is teaching that the husband is the head of the home here. As I said, it's not very politically correct by today's standards - just scriptural by Biblical standards. The admonition to husbands is contained in verse 7. Place a value on your wife and serve the Lord with her as a fellow heir (Greek: "sugkleronomos"). The phrase "that your prayers be not hindered" at the end of the verse packs a punch. Peter is indicating that a failure to "honor" one's wife (to place a value upon) will "hinder" one's relationship with God.
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Times were tough for Believers when this was written during the reign of Nero. He hated Christians. The lesson here is to give the Gospel, even in the face of potential persecution as a result. The admonition of verses 8-11 is for Believers to be part of the solution and not the problem. The Greek word for "pitiful" there is "eusplagchnos" which means tenderhearted. You get the picture which is really summarized with the statement "love as brethren." We love our family in the worst of circumstances...even when they display undesirable conduct. So should Believers treat one another at all times. So, "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing" is not a challenge when you authentically love someone. Paul gives quite a bit of detail to this very same point in I Corinthians 13:4-7 (see notes): Authentic love overlooks a lot of faults.
Here's the promise that makes suffering bearable in verses 12-14: It's all in the Lord's hands. Peter quotes Psalms 34:15-16 (see notes) in verse 12. Believers should exercise righteous actions regardless of circumstances. And...when one's good actions result in negative reactions, verse 14 encourages, "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled."
Verse 15 is a great apologetics verse, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." The Greek word for "sanctify" is the verb "hagiazo." It means to set apart i.e. make special. As such, Believers should always be ready to explain what Christ means to them. Of Course, unless a Christian practices the good conduct outlined in verses 8-14, verse 15 may fall on deaf ears. Our positive Christian example lends credibility to our message of Christ. That's what the "good conscience" of verse 16 references with an emphasis made once again in verse 17 that our suffering at the hands of others needs to be because of our unwavering faith rather than our own "evil doing."
Regarding the issue of suffering, though innocent, verse 18 begins with an example of Christ's suffering as a lesson to us, but includes some rather interesting doctrinal implications. Christ's death was substitutionary in that his death ("the just") paid for our sins ("the unjust"). The purpose was to deliver us to God i.e. eternal life. Christ was crucified physically, but raised by the Holy Spirit of God. Concerning the preaching to the "spirits in prison" in verse 19, there are some pretty interesting supporting verses to indicate that Christ actually spent those three days between his crucifixion and resurrection in Hades, or at least next door. Click here to see the discussion on this subject from Ephesians 4:8-10. We see in verse 20 that Peter specifically mentions the "disobedient" during Noah's day, but there is no reason to see this as an exclusive group of non-believers. He seems to use them to make a water analogy that leads into verse 21.
Finally, verse 21 puts water baptism into perspective. Note that water baptism is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" but rather "the answer of a good conscience toward God." In other words, baptism is a testimony thing, not a salvation thing. Click here to see a more complete discussion of water baptism in Romans 6:1-14. After the resurrection, Jesus assumes his place at "the right hand of God." Everyone is subject to Christ as God. Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul says in Colossians 1:15 (see notes), "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." Here's the bottom line: Jesus is incarnate God.
Being good stewards of God's grace (I Peter
1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
|The understanding of verse 1 varies among commentators. Let's analyze the Greek construction of the phrase "he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." Let's do a word for word substitution and go from there: "He that suffered [aorist participle meaning point in time rather than continuous action] in flesh [no definite article (the) is present] has ceased/refrained [Greek: pauo is perfect tense indicating past action] from [from because it is genitive/ablative] sin.
These verses encourage Believers to be careful about their personal testimony before the world. It appears in verse 1 that Peter is making the same point that Paul does regarding the Believers death to sin in Romans 6:1-14 (see notes). A contrast is seen between a life surrendered to Christ in verses 1-2 and the unregenerate lifestyle of verse 3. Verse 4 is an eye opener: The world will not understand why you don't act like them. Let's face it, the world normalizes bad conduct. They seek to make the conduct of verse 3 the norm for society.
Jesus is the one who will "judge the quick [living] and the dead" in verse 5. For more information regarding God's judgment, click here to read the article entitled, "Six Judgments Found in the New Testament." Don't read too much into verse 6. These dead are Christians who had the gospel preached to them and then died. Some have sought to link this verse to I Peter 3:18-19 (see above) due to similar wording. It does not appear that Peter is making any kind of a reference back to those verses.
There's no question: The disciples of the first century believed that the return of Jesus would take place in their lifetime as evidenced by Peter's statement in verse 7, "But the end of all things is at hand." The Greek verb for "is at hand" is the perfect active indicative of "eggizo" and thus means "has drawn near." Paul similarly believed that the return of Christ would take place in his lifetime when he said in I Thessalonians 4:17 (see notes), "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." He also uses the same "we" reference in verse 15 of that chapter. This has caused some to question the doctrine of the rapture and second coming of Christ. Here's the reality: It's imminent. The disciples had asked Jesus after his resurrection and just before his ascension in Acts 1:6 (see notes), "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Since that day, they had expected the imminent return of Christ. The fact that Peter and Paul seemed to anticipate the return of Christ during their own lifetimes simply makes us realize that Jesus could appear at any time...in his own time.
In the meantime, Peter encourages the mutual edification of Believers in verses 8-11. All of our actions should be mutually considerate of others. I particularly like the last part of verse 8, "...for charity shall cover the multitude of sins." When you authentically love someone, you don't pick them apart for their faults. I like Proverbs 10:12 on this issue, "Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins." I have a saying that I use a lot: "When people like you, you can't do anything wrong; when they don't like you, you can't do anything right." Verse 10 instructs us to not resent hospitality to brothers and sisters in Christ. Verse 11 continues to emphasize that we should pass along to others the blessings that have been passed along to us from God. Verse 11 directs us to just follow the Lord's leadership as we minister.
Believers will undergo suffering (I Peter
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Now we're back to the overriding theme of Peter's letter...trial. Refer to the article located at the the top, right of this screen entitled "Trial, Testing and Temptation" for a complete overview of adversity in the Believer's life, or click here to read the article in full screen. Trial is part of Christian living. Accept trial as part of God's plan. However, Peter admonishes us to be careful not to bring hard times upon ourselves through our own bad conduct.
In verse 12 Peter encourages his letter recipients to be expecting "fiery" testing/trial (Greek: peirasmos). You will recall from the introduction that these were the days of the Roman Emperor Nero; he hated Christians, and demonstrated that fact regularly. Persecution of Christians during this period was severe. Verse 13 then follows that those under undeserved persecution should rejoice at being counted worthy to partake of sufferings just as Christ did.
In verses 14-16 Peter is making certain that his readers understand the difference between suffering for Christ as opposed to suffering because of one's own wrong doing. There's no honor in suffering because of one's own faults. But to suffer for the cause of Christ, that's honorable.
In verses 17-19 Peter sees the persecution and hardships as end-time adversity, just as the Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel prior to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. There, righteous and unrighteous were caught up in the judgment that followed. However, the righteous suffered for God while the unrighteous suffered because of their unrighteousness. That's the parallel that Peter seems to draw from here.
1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Peter addresses the responsibility of elders (Greek: presbuteros) in this closing chapter. Who exactly is he talking to here? Click here for a summary of the relationship concerning the New Testament words "elders," "bishops" and "pastors." All three Greek words are used in this passage as well as Acts 20:17-38. Click here to see the summary of that passage for a clearer understanding of this terminology for what most people refer to today as simply "pastors."
As a fellow elder, in verse 1 Peter is exhorting (Greek: parakaleo - to encourage or console) elders. In his qualifications for doing so, he cites his presence during the events leading up to and including the crucifixion of Christ. The "glory that shall be revealed" refers to the appearance of Jesus Christ at the rapture. Paul makes a similar reference in Romans 8:18 (see notes) when he says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." For those who want to know more, Paul gives some details regarding our future glorified bodies in I Corinthians 15:35-50 (see notes).
Here's Peter's exhortation with regard to the leadership style these elders should demonstrate in verses 2-3:
In verse 4, the appearance of the "chief shepherd" is a reference to Jesus at the rapture of the church (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, see notes).
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.
13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
14 Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
These are Christian-living verses that encourage us to beware of Satan's sneaky methods of attacking us. Keep in mind, Satan cannot cause us to be lost again, but he'll work all day every day to prevent us from having a positive influence on others. Relationships are in view here - the way we relate to other Believers. The young are to hold in high esteem the experience of those who are older. Here, the Greek word "presbuteros" is used in the context of an older person rather than speaking specifically to the office of an elder. This word can mean either; only context reveals the intended meaning. Humility is the key here as seen in verses 5-6. One who is surrendered to God sees himself as an instrument of God's grace rather than a self-sufficient, self-motivated entity. That is emphasized in verse 7 where we see that all of our "care" (Greek: merimna - means anxiety) is rightfully surrendered to Jesus; he provides the strength to prevail over the enemy, Satan, seen in verse 8.
I find the metaphor of verse 8 particularly sobering. Have you ever seen the way a lion stalks his prey? Watch out! Satan, like the lion, looks for opportunities of weakness in Believers. The lion waits until the opportunity is completely right before he pounces. So does Satan. He creates circumstances around a Believer conducive to compromise in an attempt to lead a Believer away from spiritual safety. When that Believer is most vulnerable, that's when Satan makes his big move...just like a lion.
Verses 9-10 provide for us the preventive measures which should be taken against Satan - resist him by remaining "stedfast in the faith." Adversity is the normal state of Christian living. Remaining faithful in adversity results in spiritual maturity ("make you perfect") where the Believer will find that he is established, strengthened and settled. This is actually a summary statement of the subject first introduced in I Peter 1:6-9 (see above). Refer to the article to the top, right of this screen entitled "Trial, Testing and Temptation" for a complete overview of adversity in the Believer's life, or click here to read the article in full screen.
The mention of "Silvanus, a faithful brother" in verse 12 is most likely a reference to Silas. Most scholars are convinced that "Silvanus" is Silas Latin name as a Roman citizen, while a few believe this refers to another individual altogether. The fact is, Silas did accompany Paul and Timothy on Paul's second missionary journey which began in Acts 15:36 (see notes). He is in the company of Paul and is credited in three of Paul's epistles (II Corinthians 1:19, see notes; I Thessalonians 1:1, see notes; II Thessalonians 1:1, see notes).